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street level × GROTTO


Join us to develop a beautiful architectural scheme for Perth’s missing middle culminating in an exhibition at Perth Design Week 2024. A competition studio for architecture students, design professionals and enthusiasts. Applications close 1 January 2024.



Beauty Matters

Like many cities with car-centric planning systems, Perth is experiencing a ‘missing middle’ challenge, with a lack of beautiful newly built medium- density homes. Planning restrictions and economic challenges to quality building have prevented us from building quality ‘gentle density’ at scale. 

Street Level and GROTTO believe that we can learn from the architectural precedents that exist in Perth to define the future of design and development in our city. Some of the most popular buildings in the world were built from a traditional ‘pattern’, including Haussmann buildings in Paris, the painted ladies in San Francisco and Georgian townhomes in London. 

Heritage buildings are extremely popular with local communities, and often command higher real-estate values than newer buildings with the same scale, when controlling for other factors. A more beauty-centric approach to planning and architecture is required for Perth that makes development not just tolerable, but desirable, for local communities. This requires an ambitious response from designers that centres excellence and popularity in design.

This architecture studio is a volunteer-led effort by Street Level and GROTTO to engage students, architects and urban designers in imagining an architectural scheme for one part of Perth. This workshop aims to offer a counter-narrative to prevalent architectural discussions by emphasising aesthetics and public engagement. The deliverables, especially the crafted models and charcoal drawings, will provide tangible, eye-catching content for public exhibitions and the studio book, making a strong case for beauty in our built environment.

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Join us to create an exhibition that will be launched at Perth Design Week in 2024.

Image: Craig Nener, GROTTO Studio

Why are we doing this?


The competitive studio will take place over seven days in January 2024 (with two extra days of studio time). The objectives of the studio are:

  • To generate a studio exhibition that emphasises aesthetic beauty, particularly to influence the decision-making of councils, developers, state government and the architectural profession.

  • To incorporate public preference in shaping architectural guidance by showing members of the public specific visual options and responding faithfully to their preferences.

  • To demonstrate a highly sustainable approach to design and development that is linked to aesthetic quality, popularity and enduring building.To demonstrate

  • To create an independent urban architecture studio that is centred on exploring, educating, and advocating for architectural excellence in building beauty and order in our built environment.


Our work will be launched at Perth Design Week in March 2024, providing the opportunity for broader public viewing. The schemes will be judged by an expert panel of judges according to the principles of beauty and excellence in design. Applications close 1 January 2024.


Duration and dates

8-12 and 15-18 January 2024, 9 am to 4 pm. Seven days of group work, studio time and lectures and two days of dedicated studio time. 

Participation fee

The participation fee is $80 for unwaged and students and $160 for waged. This helps us cover the cost of materials. 

Eligibility and teams

Team size will be 4⁠ to 5 people. Current students, professionals or enthusiasts are welcome to apply, including urban designers. Participants may form their own teams or opt to work individually. If you register as an individual, we will allocate you a team. We recommend forming a team from participants who have complementary skillsets. 

Study location

To be confirmed


Participants should also bring a phone camera and a laptop for documenting and collating precedents, as well as professional tools such as pencils and pens in various weights and widths, cutting mats, knives and metal rulers. 

Apply now

Applicants are invited to register with a sample of work and/or a short personal statement (e.g., 200 words) describing their motivations for applying. Places are limited. If there are more applications than there are places, participants will be selected on the strength of their folio. If you are an architect or design student, no experience in traditional architecture or urbanism is required; the only requirement is curiosity and an open mind. If you have any questions about registering, email


Charcoal drawing (A1)

A dynamic, changeable façade drawing based on critiques. Aim for depth and vividness.

Supplementary A3 sheets

Smaller scale iterations, possibly including plans and sections if they aid the design.

Physical façade model (1:20 scale)

Crafted from real materials like concrete, timber, model bricks and steel. No strawboard.

Collective deliverable

Studio book created from local architectural and urban design precedents that includes visual guidance on architectural elements for different building types, building materials and palettes, and street furniture and urban design elements, including proposed improvements to the adjacent urban fabric to promote walkability and conviviality. Includes a section on ‘what not to do’.

Brick Building





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